There is a Whirlpool in the centre of Langtry’s, the pub’s most notable feature, yet it is not a cooker, dishwasher, washing machine or fridge from the electrical appliance giant; this Whirlpool is a three-player circular pool- or snooker-type table with three pockets and a circular cushion in the middle. More traditional pub games include the familiar Itbox and a glass-topped fussball table.
The main bar area itself isn’t huge, yet there is a massive side-room/conservatory called the ’Canteen’ in which food is served, and a humungous garden and patio area at the front, both of which appear to have seating for several hundred. There is an outside bar or barbeque - a wooden shed with a counter - that is used in the summer months, yet is covered with a blue plastic tarpaulin for the rest of the year. Not content with having one of the largest beer gardens in Portsmouth, Langtry’s is situated opposite Southsea Common, which can be utilised to handle the overspill from the pub’s garden; a notice near the pub’s gates advising against taking glass onto the common contains a classic piece of illiteracy: only plastic glasses can be used ’If you are going over the common...’ - clearly the sign caters for those who can fly: Superman, seagulls, pigeons, and patrons taking pleasure flights.
A notice on the door states that ’Shirts must be worn in the bar area’, making it unlikely that anybody will be welcome in a dress, a pullover, a t-shirt or a jumpsuit. The exclusion of jumpsuits precludes any Elvis impersonators from visiting Langtry’s in their rhinestone-studded examples. The lack of shirts also means that it would be futile to book a strip-o-gram, as they wouldn’t be allowed in. The sign is also discriminatory and should mention that ’blouses’ must also be worn in the bar area.
The wide, semi-circular bar is located at the top of three steps and surrounded by wooden balustrades. Of most concern are the numerous, unmarked brown packets that languish on top of a fridge behind the bar, like packets of Ricin, Sarin or even heroin. If a substance wrapped in unmarked brown paper is worrying, then the upside-down plantpot on every table is likely to cause extreme paranoia (like cheapskates, the pub uses these as ashtrays)!
Who is Langtry? The only Langtry with any historical connection to the area was Lillie Langtry, actress and socialite who was most infamous as the mistress of Queen Victoria’s beloved eldest son, ’Bertie’. Prince Albert, the Prince of Wales, was the future King Edward VII and the father of The Duke of Clarence, Prince Albert Victor, who was one of the main suspects thought to have been ’Jack the Ripper’; it is often suspected that Prince Albert Victor’s ’death’ from influenza was really murder, sanctioned by his Grandmother, Queen Victoria, to prevent ’the Ripper’ from bringing any more shame onto the Royal Family. Lillie Langtry was a recent visitor to the South Coast area with the Prince of Wales.
Langtry’s décor, blue and yellow, is identical to an "It’s a Scream" pub, yet the bastardisation of Edvard Munch’s Scream is nowhere to be seen. The floor is a combination of red, blue of green chequers, wooden boards, or a tiny patch of carpet under the Whirlpool. There are several tall tables and stools, and a couple of sofas in the corner to the left of door. A selection of photographs on the wall shows the pub’s happy days, and high on the wall, next to a TV showing extreme sport, is a brass sculpture, shaped like a flock of birds that are obviously ’...going over the common...’
Review by mr_psm